Do you have a habit of procrastinating? Want to stop procrastinating and get stuff done?
In my years of working with clients to help them break the habit of procrastinating, I’ve found 5 deep-seated ‘stories’ that we tell ourselves in order to feel better about procrastinating. I call these ‘stories’ because they’re often untrue and are merely justifications so we can continue let ourselves off the hook.
See if you identify with any of them:
- I’m too busy. I’ll do it later.
The problem with this decision is that we never find the time. When we have spare time, we waste it worrying or procrastinating or watching TV. So many of us say to ourselves, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” then tomorrow comes, and we forget about that promise. Before we know it, one year has gone by without any progress made. Then we mentally beat ourselves up for being lazy, and label ourselves as a procrastinator, accepting that nothing can be done to change this. Procrastination is not a personality trait and it can be overcome.
- I work better when I leave things to the last minute.
Some people feel that doing things at the last minute creates urgency and pressure, which pushes them to act. Hence, they leave things to the last minute, believing that it will help them to be more efficient. However, the problem is that this approach creates a lot of invisible costs including :
a. When you procrastinate, you waste time and then mentally beat yourself up about it!
b. Your procrastination creates unnecessary anxiety. Even though you’ve decided to put off the task till later, you think about it from time to time, causing extra worry.
c. By leaving little time for the task, the final output is usually short of what you are really capable of, since you’ve insufficient time to deliver quality results.
Now, there is one exception to this rule though, which pertains to low-importance tasks. When it comes to low-important tasks, it’s actually better to leave them to the last minute. This way, you can limit the time you spend on the task, as opposed to letting perfectionism get the better of you.
- Delaying this by a day / week won’t make much difference.
While delaying a task by a day may not appear to make much of a difference in the long run, the problem isn’t the one day you’re delaying the task by — it’s the number of “one day’s” you have been delaying and are going to continue delaying your task by, these can add up to months of lost productivity. Everything we do day-in and day-out, from the little decisions we make to the amount of time we allot to goal-setting/action-taking, plays a big role in who we become and what we achieve in the long run.
What have you been delaying? Ever thought about the results you would have accomplished if you had taken action from that very first day you procrastinated? Rather than continue delaying, how about taking action today? What’s one small thing you can do to get started today?
- Procrastination is ingrained in me.
I often hear this from clients, who claim that procrastination is a natural part of them and there’s nothing they can do about it. The good news is that it is possible to “unprocrastinate” but the bad news is that as long as you have the belief that procrastination is ingrained in you, it’s going to be very difficult to remove it.
The mind is very clever and will make your beliefs a reality. If you know you are wasting your time and believe you can do something about it and are willing to take action, then you will achieve your goals and procrastination will be a distant memory. All of us are born as positive, intelligent, and inspired human beings. The only reason we become negative, uncertain, or unmotivated is because we allow ourselves to be clouded by erroneous thinking patterns and/or situational constraints, which prevent our true self from emerging. The solution is to act on these causes and remove them. After which anyone can become naturally, effortlessly motivated towards their goals and take action toward them.
Note: Just like character traits like tactlessness, shyness, and pessimism can be addressed, procrastination can be addressed and permanently removed. It’s just about understanding the reasons behind your procrastination and addressing them.
- I can only do this when I have x hours free.
You will never find time, you have to make time. When I was writing my book, I initially thought I needed big blocks of time to focus, concentrate and get into author mode. But then nothing happened for months! When I made the decision to make notes, edit or write when travelling on a bus, or waiting for a friend it was amazing how much I got done and how easy it was to get into the flow. This progress inspired me and every time the bus journey ended or my friend left, I couldn’t wait to get back into writing.
If you’d like help overcoming procrastination click here and let’s chat.
Here are some of my previous blogs you might want to read.